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Minus 148 Degrees

4.22  ·  Rating Details ·  712 Ratings  ·  62 Reviews
Classic tale of dramatic near-death experiences in the harshest of conditions.
Paperback, 254 pages
Published December 1st 1999 by Mountaineers Books (first published 1970)
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(showing 1-30)
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Ashley
Jun 25, 2012 Ashley rated it it was amazing
I am not a climber, nor a mountaineer, and I have absolutely no desire to take up either sport, yet I couldn't put this book down. Art Davidson does a phenomenal job of taking a reader to Denali in the middle of the winter while a group of young climbers attempt to summit. I thought Art did a fantastic job of bringing the reader to the mountain and giving us a glimpse into what it means to find yourself trapped 17,000 ft high, with no means of rescue. You can't help but fall in love with these y ...more
Karen A.
Sep 24, 2013 Karen A. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
First published in 1969 and included on National Geographic’s top 100 Greatest Adventure Books of all time, Minus 148 Degrees, by Art Davidson retells the compelling high stakes story of a group of men who made the first winter ascent on Mt. McKinley. Art and his friend, Dave Johnston, both accomplished climbers are looking for adventure and come up with an idea to lead the first team to summit Mt. McKinley in the winter. Most climbing peers of the time think they are crazy, rightfully so, even ...more
Dru
Feb 01, 2011 Dru rated it really liked it
Shelves: sports
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
lynn
Jan 05, 2013 lynn rated it really liked it
Tales of extreme adventure never lose their appeal for me! I am especially drawn to stories of epic mountain ascents under horrible conditions, possibly because they are often steeped in descriptions of how each of the excursion team's personalities act, think, and react to each other and the situations in which they find themselves. This story is of the first winter ascent of Denali/Mt. McKinley in Alaska. As often is the case when climbing over glaciers, ice and snow to altitudes most of us wo ...more
Nancynova
Mar 14, 2013 Nancynova rated it really liked it
Shelves: jan-apr-2013
A re-publication; an expedition sets out to climb Mt Mckinley (Denali) in Alaska in the winter. Only three of them "summit", then are caught in a storm, the waiting party of four separates after they think the other three surely are dead. In the end all are rescued, although the party lost one man in a crevasse early in the climb. This version contains information on what each of the party is doing now, and other winter climbs that have been attempted on the mountain
Sarah Taylor
Jan 26, 2008 Sarah Taylor rated it it was amazing
Wow! This is the best non-fiction adventure book I have yet to read...I found myself anxious to get home from work in order to read more about this incredibly dangerous and heroic tale to climb Mt. McKinley in the dead of winter.
Julie
Sep 22, 2014 Julie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fic
I loved that this book had a "where are they now" section for the anniversary edition. Davidson was smart to include multiple points of view for the telling of this incredible escapade.
David Readmont-Walker
Well written mountaineering-survival Robin. Real page turner. Would recommend.
Vis
Sep 12, 2016 Vis rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This was a stunning story of survival made compelling despite the writing talents of the author. Davidson does his best but there is no prerequisite for mountain climbers to be good writers. There was a persistent awkwardness in his attempts to recreate the dialogue that passed between the various climbers and I never felt that I had a complete understanding of his own motivation to be there. He was more successful in his attempts to portray the power and beauty of the mountains surrounding them ...more
Eugene Miya
Jun 01, 2012 Eugene Miya rated it it was amazing
This book was probably the first book I had to read in one straight push, cover to cover (I could not put it down). It was a Sunday, and I sympathized while I was eating dinner (KFC chicken) as the author and his buddies were starving, storm-bound at 17.2K ft on the side of Denali/Mt. McKinley. The book is about the first winter ascent of Denali.

Why climb mountains? Art Davidson says: "To eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in peace."

The title comes from the unrounded lowest figure typically
...more
Amanda
Sep 22, 2016 Amanda rated it it was amazing
I read this book based on the recommendation of a mountain climber. He said that if I wanted to know what it was like, this would be a good way to get an idea.

I found the author did a superb job in capturing my thoughts and emotions. I almost shivered at times while nearing the climax of the story.
Mihai Giurgiulescu
A riveting mountaineering epic that doubles as one of the most incredible survival stories of all times, Minus 148 has remained a classic since its original publication, so the only question I have is: how come I didn't read this earlier? As a climber, I am familiar with the challenges when we set our sights on various summits, but even fifty years later the proposition of taking on Denali, one of the coldest mountains on the planet, in winter remains close to the realm of lunacy. The fact that ...more
Eric_W
Apr 10, 2009 Eric_W rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: readers who liked Into Thin Air
Shelves: biography-memoir
It's bad enough to want to get really cold in the summer, but to do it in the winter buggars rational thought. These idiots decided to climb Mt. McKinley in the dead of winter.

Art Davidson was disappointed as a child when he learned that all the continents had been discovered. It's no wonder then that he just had to climb McKinley in winter. Many thought it was impossible. Temperatures hovered around -60 and winds often reached 160 mph. Indeed, in December there is only about 4 hours of sunligh
...more
Randee Baty
This is a fascinating book about a truly great adventure. Art Davidson was in the first winter ascent of Mt. McKinley. Of the nine who started, most did not make it to the top but even for those who didn’t, it was still the adventure of a lifetime. This is far better than an fictional thriller!

I love the details of how the camp is set up each night and what they ate and what they did in their down time. Details from diaries kept by the various climbers are included and that gives a great insight
...more
Greg
Jul 01, 2013 Greg rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library, first-reads
This is a book I won in the First Reads program. I enjoyed how this book described how people work together in extreme conditions. I especially like the vast sections of introspection from the author's eyes and the other people in the party. The introspective parts allowed me to feel like I was looking deep into their soul and finding out what kind of person they really were.

Throughout the story there were several places that I am glad I have never gone through the same situation they have gone
...more
Kelly
Mar 22, 2016 Kelly rated it it was amazing
In my opinion, one of the best mountaineering books ever written. The story of an ambitious winter expedition to climb Denali (McKinley), it really has all you could ever want out of this kind of novel - the majesty of Alaska, the toils of mountaineering, difficult decisions, ingenious solutions, bad luck, human perseverance, nature's wrath ... you name it. It takes you into the heart of the Alaskan wilderness, and, just as interestingly in this case, into the mindset of an individual. I think f ...more
Amar Pai
Sep 23, 2015 Amar Pai rated it liked it
"The scientists just shook their heads in disbelief at the human wrecks the mountain had sent back to them. They described us in clinical terms such as "obtundation" which denotes dullness or depression. They hooked our heads back up to the electroencephalograph and recorded mental patterns common for a person sleeping lightly. Physically we had set out lean and fit, with a very low percentage of body fat. After five weeks on the mountain Dave, Pirate and I had lost an average of 35 pounds each, ...more
Karen
Mar 11, 2013 Karen rated it really liked it
This was another outstanding memoir in the mountaineering genre, and it was great read in tandem with "Forever on the Mountain," which was also about a troubled climb of Mount Denali in 1967. While "Forever" was written 40 years after the fact and was based on much research with the survivors, this book was written not very long after the actual climb itself by one of the climbers. Art Davidson is a fine writer, and has wonderful insights about climbers, climbing, the "relationship" between man ...more
Peter
May 15, 2011 Peter rated it really liked it
Well written and candid story of audacious attempt to climb the South Peak of Mt. McKinley in the winter of 1967. Fatal crevasse fall, confinement to an ice cave at 19,000 feet for the duration of a ferocious wind storm, frostbitten appendages, dehydration, altitude sickness, starvation, and miscellaneous other injuries ensue. Afterward, describing what each climber did in succeeding years was also interesting. Some made this experience the foundation of a mountaineering career, while others sim ...more
Kunal Sakpal
Oct 21, 2014 Kunal Sakpal rated it really liked it
An adventure is never bigger than exploring the unexplored.
This is about something that was never tried before. Not just that, everyone doubted that this could be accomplished.

I visited Talkeetna, Alaska and there, I talked to someone who mentioned this book and that made me add this to my read list. A wonderfully adventurous story, you can only imagine feeling the state the climbers were in and Art Davisdon makes a good effort to write from a personal yet neutral (all the fellow climbers') pers
...more
Smith
Sep 28, 2013 Smith rated it really liked it
Account of first winter ascent of Mt. McKinley. Took place in 1967. Author, Art Davidson, was one of the climbers and he did summit (only 3 in group of 8 summitted). One of the members of the team died the second day of the expedition when he fell into a crevasse. Very honest account, including team discord and difficult decisions that were made. The three that summitted nearly died on descent when they were forced to sit out a windstorm for 4 days with dwindling food, gas and insulation.
Doug Canfield
Oct 02, 2012 Doug Canfield rated it it was amazing
Mountaineers Books Staff: This is a classic of outdoor adventure writing and is on several lists of the best adventure books of all time. The "148" refers to the lowest temperature that can be recorded, since the climbers trapped on Denali in this nonfiction story only know that it was that cold at a minimum. On this first-ever winter ascent of Mt. McKinley (Denali), Davidson lived to tell about it. Not everyone on the expedition did. Warning: Once started, you won't be able to put it down.
Sonya
The story of a winter ascent of Mount McKinley. As much about the people that even think of doing such ridiculous things and the beauty of mountain climbing. If it was just the latter, you wonder why they have to go in the winter, with little daylight and non-human supporting temperatures. In this age, where there is little left to pioneer or discover, there is little left for the adventurer than this. Good story.
Niki
Dec 02, 2011 Niki rated it it was amazing
Really enjoyed this book! Read a couple that weren't so great or exciting before this and this was a relief to finally read something that so captured my attention. I thought it was well written and portrayed their experience quite well. I have the wonderful blessing at looking at this breathtaking mountain everyday that it's visible and I loved reading about something that happened in it's peaks. I almost want to climb Denali now (although, NOT in the winter)! Maybe someday : )
Bryce
Feb 29, 2008 Bryce rated it liked it
Just started this last night. As usual, a climbing book that kept me up way past my bedtime. Or maybe it was the 4:00 coffee?? More later...

Good read for anyone interested in alpine history or true stories of survival. Also serves as a good reminder for what not to do when traveling on a glacier.
Paul
Jan 07, 2008 Paul rated it it was amazing
Ever wonder what it's like to live in an snow cave and drink your pee to stay alive? You'd imagine that there are only so many adjectives to describe "cold", but this introduces you to so many more! An excellent read.
Ben
Oct 07, 2008 Ben rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Ben by: big bro
sweet book about the first winter climb up 20,300 ft. Mt McKinely, aka Denali. -80F and 100 mph winds make windchill of -148 that is crazy cold really good book a guy falls in a crevasse and dies though
Audra
Jun 22, 2008 Audra rated it it was ok
Shelves: exploration
These are the kind of climbers that gave climbing a bad name. Aside from everything else (kind of whiny, no clear planning) they kept the rescue helicopters waiting around for several hours while they decided whether or not to take the offered ride! WTF?
Yvonne Leutwyler
Apr 05, 2015 Yvonne Leutwyler rated it liked it
Surviving under those conditions, how is that even humanly possible!? While the writing is not superb, the book definitely kept my interest. In the latest edition the author talks about where his companions of the expedition are now and what they have done in their lives so many years later.
Aaron Deerey
It was a good, spartan narrative. The journal entries are a good balance with the author's story and gives the entire party its character.
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